Senior Suffolk police officer praises ‘reassuring’ response to RAF Mildenhall disturbance
The immediate and “reassuring” response to the disturbance at RAF Mildenhall has been praised by a senior Suffolk Constabulary officer.
A man is being questioned by police after a disturbance at an RAF base during which shots were fired by US service personnel.
The 44-year-old British man was apprehended at RAF Mildenhall and is being held by Suffolk police on suspicion of criminal trespass after the base was forced into lockdown earlier this afternoon.
Superintendent Kim Warner revealed there had been a “short pursuit” of the suspect who allegedly failed to produce identification before driving through the checkpoint.
Speaking to this newspaper at the scene tonight, he said: “It would appear a male fails to provide identification, he is given some instructions which he fails to follow, he then drives through the security area – there is no damage caused to any gates or fences – there is a short pursuit, and then the vehicle is brought to a halt by security services.
“As a result of that pursuit, firearms are deployed by the US security personnel. Any breach of security is a concern but they clearly responded immediately to it. Someone has been apprehended in a very short time. Ministry of Defence police were on the scene very quickly and we were notified as per our protocol very quickly and arrived in good time.
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“It was an extremely prompt response from those involved. Everyone is aware of what the international threat from terrorism is, and therefore everyone is at that heightened level of readiness, so when you get anything like this, it is reassuring to know that those plans would appear to be effective.”
He said the vehicle was brought to a halt close to a US plane, an Osprey.
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He said patrols will not be stepped up around the base: “It is not terrorist-related. We have got a very long and close-working relationship with the USAF (United States Air Force) in the area. It is tried and tested and I see no reason why we would change our responses.”
Police cars guarded the main entrance as local and national media gathered at the scene and awaited the latest social media updates from authorities. Police had warned people to avoid the area initially, before the scale of the incident later emerged.
Richard Greenfield, chairman of Mildenhall Parish Council, said: “I think there was a bit of panic initially but once it became clear what had happened, it all calmed down. This sort of thing has happened before. It seems it was handled very well.”
West Suffolk MP Matthew Hancock, said: “I have the utmost trust in the professionalism of the servicemen and women at the base to protect us and to defend our national security.”